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Japan joins war against western Europe in '40

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  • Japan joins war against western Europe in '40

    What are some possible outcomes to Japan joining Germany and Italy in May '40? Could the IJN take British, French, Dutch and Belgian pacific territories at this time? Could it be done without taking the Phillipines? Does the US get involved?
    "In the absence of orders...find something and kill it!" Lt. General Erwin Rommel, 1942

  • #2
    may 1940 is unlikely. why would they take the risk then, no one expected france to loose.

    after june-july 1940, it begins to look more favourable for Japan. picking up the NEI would be easy, and perhaps they could easyly get indochina frm Vichy france and attack Singapore.

    the key is indeed US response. the USA bases in the Philipines would be a dangerous position to harass Japan's shipping between Singapore and Japan.

    another key is the navy/army struggle within Japan's armed forces. the politics of that fight were determinating on what course of action would be taken.

    perhaps a course of action would be the Navy to guarantee the Army that afteri seizing the NEI/Singapore/Indochina all resources would eb reverted to fight China and protect against USSR.

    but in 1940, Japan while superior in the Navy, was not that ready as in late 1941 in the air force and army to attack with confidence.

    Japan would more probably - as it did - wait and see how 1940 would progress.
    "Freedom cannot exist without discipline, self-discipline, and rights cannot exist without duties. Those who do not observe their duties do not deserve their rights."--Oriana Fallaci

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    • #3
      Was the US Navy even in Pearl Harbor in 1940?

      One thing is certain- it would have been a lot harder w/o the Zero.
      "Why is the Rum gone?"

      -Captain Jack

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      • #4
        No, the US pacific fleet was based on the West Coast. It was not rebased to Oahu until Spring 1941 after the fleet exercises operated from there. The base facilites existed, but were partially shut down to shift funds to purchasing & other urgent demands. it was significantly less expensive to base the fleet out of the West coast ports, and catered to powerful California politicians.

        The Pjillipines had far less. Facilities were not large enough for long term sustainment of the complete Pacific fleet, and they were not well stocked with ammunition, ship parts, or fuel in 1940. ground defense consisted of the Manlia harbor forts like Corrigidor, and a few regular army regiments comprising the Phillipines division. Air defense had the effective strength of group of older aircraft. The Phillipines army was not much more than a future cadre attending officers & NCO training equipped with purchase orders and unfilled supply contracts.

        More important than lack or the AM2 or Zero fighter aircraft would have been the absence of the doctrine or techniques for aircraft carrier strike groups. The concept had just been proposed in the IJN in 1940 and was undeveloped. Carriers trained as individual supporting elements for the surface fleet and the techniques for using two or more carrier air groups as a single coordinated force were no more than a few ideas outlined on paper.

        Combat leassons from operations over China had not yet been completely asorbed. Doctrines, techniques & training had not completely caught up & the fleet air arm was not as capable as in December 1941. Of course neither the British or US navies were as good as in late 1941 either. Tho I suspect at surface actions, particularly at night, the Brits would have been equal or superior.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Carl Schwamberg View Post
          No, the US pacific fleet was based on the West Coast. It was not rebased to Oahu until Spring 1941 after the fleet exercises operated from there. The base facilites existed, but were partially shut down to shift funds to purchasing & other urgent demands. it was significantly less expensive to base the fleet out of the West coast ports, and catered to powerful California politicians.

          The Pjillipines had far less. Facilities were not large enough for long term sustainment of the complete Pacific fleet, and they were not well stocked with ammunition, ship parts, or fuel in 1940. ground defense consisted of the Manlia harbor forts like Corrigidor, and a few regular army regiments comprising the Phillipines division. Air defense had the effective strength of group of older aircraft. The Phillipines army was not much more than a future cadre attending officers & NCO training equipped with purchase orders and unfilled supply contracts.

          More important than lack or the AM2 or Zero fighter aircraft would have been the absence of the doctrine or techniques for aircraft carrier strike groups. The concept had just been proposed in the IJN in 1940 and was undeveloped. Carriers trained as individual supporting elements for the surface fleet and the techniques for using two or more carrier air groups as a single coordinated force were no more than a few ideas outlined on paper.

          Combat leassons from operations over China had not yet been completely asorbed. Doctrines, techniques & training had not completely caught up & the fleet air arm was not as capable as in December 1941. Of course neither the British or US navies were as good as in late 1941 either. Tho I suspect at surface actions, particularly at night, the Brits would have been equal or superior.
          Good points, but I think unless the Japs attacked the US, the US would do nothing to provoke a war with Japan. Roosevelt knows he can win with an isolationist stance and it would be hard to out involve Willkie in the election and still win (Roosevelt did eventually do more than Willkie was proposing but politics is about timing too). The great successes of 41-42 were not naval though, other than to knock out the USN at Pearl. The invasion of Malaysia could easily be repeated, and the Dutch would have been a pushover even without their homeland occupied. The only more difficult would be the invasion of Indochina, which if they wait until AFTER the Vichy's give them access, no invasion is necessary.

          In hindsight, this scenario is a VERY shrewd move by the Japanese, so that by the time Roosevelt is able to squeeze the Japanese by the nuts, they will already be embargo proof. There will be no war with Japan, and the US will never become a beliigerent in WWII. Axis win? Depends on how you beleive the Ostfront will go. I say German victory, I respect the stalemate postion, and seem to be doomed to fight the Soviet victory proponents until the end of time. But that's me.
          How many Allied tanks it would take to destroy a Maus?
          275. Because that's how many shells there are in the Maus. Then it could probably crush some more until it ran out of gas. - Surfinbird

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          • #6
            I agree. July seems more likely to me as well. But avoiding the americans, and still securing the necessary resources should be quite possible.
            "In the absence of orders...find something and kill it!" Lt. General Erwin Rommel, 1942

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            • #7
              For this to occur, and have a favorable outcome for Japan at least in the short run, the decision cant be spur of the moment & months of preperations must occur. part of the reason is Japans governemnt and military were not unified. The Army & many politicians where wholly committed to the war in China and potiential conflict with the USSR. It took most of 1940 before they accepted that the war in China would have to wait until the Europeans and Americans had been punished for interfering.

              Assuming attitudes change earlier Japan will still have less combat power than 18 months later, which balances the weaker Europeans & US military. If Japans offensive is a suprise there is one benefit. A significant number of forigen cargo ships might be captured. In 1941 the Trade Embargo removed approx half the merchant ships servicing cargo to Japans ports, so Japan started the conflict desperately short of cargo ships. Even as few as 500,000 extra tons of merchant ships would be helpfull.

              Perhaps the worst problem will be a insignificant war reserve of raw materials in Japan. In Dec 1941 a large surplus of oil, Bauxite, coal, tungsten, rubber, ect.. ammounting to 6 - 18 months reserve, depending on the the item. It took over a year to accumulate that & it is unlikely japan can sand bag away a similar ammount in a few months in 1940. So Japan would enter this war with little reserve of critical materials in the home islands.

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              • #8
                Another point here is that Nomohan hasn't occured either. That battle with the Soviets was a major catalyst in the Japanese ramping up their pilot training programs substancally. In early 1940 they were still turning out just a handful of pilots a month. They literally had no replacements for losses to speak of.

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                • #9
                  Interesting question. It forces the US to declare war without provocation which I think is something of a tough sell maybe.

                  How much does it draw off from the fight in Africa. Does this mean Rommel gets a chance to win.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by craven View Post
                    Interesting question. It forces the US to declare war without provocation which I think is something of a tough sell maybe.

                    How much does it draw off from the fight in Africa. Does this mean Rommel gets a chance to win.
                    No, this does not solve Rommels transportation problem that crippled his army every time it reached the Egyptian border. Even at their worst moments in 1941-42 the British still had substantial reserves across the Middle East Egypt and south in Africa. If reinforcements are required for the Asian Theatre then Britian has to postphone operations like the invasion of Ethiopia, or Syria. The Greek adventure is not ordered. Even the build up of the BEF in France could be reduced were the Japanese threatening war.

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                    • #11
                      I doubt it draws from the desert battle. More than likely, Britian sends a medium sized naval force made up of readily available older model battleships and cruisers, to be followed up sooner or later with a carrier group. I think Carl is probably right about IJN's preparedness in the carrier strike arena, even still, the Japs win an initial battle or two, but if U.S is not involved, Britian wins a big one roughly six months after Japan enters, probably in the Indian Ocean or close to the Malayan peninsula, which probably brings about a naval stalemate. But this does not solve the equation if Japan has already blitzed for 6 months and conquered the oil rich regions she needs from Belgium and Holland, However, Britian can not afford to keep too large a force in the region for too long with the U-boat threat looming in the Atlantic. The convoys bringing much needed lend-lease supplies to the home island should receive priority.
                      Would be interesting to see if Japan could secure the resources needed to continue against China. Remember, Japan was a selfish ally, and not concerned with European matters, fighting a local war in OTL, not thinking globally at all. As a side effect of her selfishness in this TL though, I think stretching Britian's navy to a two front war and avoiding confrontations with america eventually brings a favorable end to the war for the axis. Just my opinion.
                      "In the absence of orders...find something and kill it!" Lt. General Erwin Rommel, 1942

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                      • #12
                        One oft forgotton bit is Britain had its own submarine fleet. Larger than the German Fleet in 1939. In OTL this fleet was wasted in operations in the Med vs the Italians. The British submarine fleet was split between smaller subs suitable for shallow seas, many older models, and large deep diving 'cruiser' subs designed specifically for fighting the Japanese fleet. The larger subs were unable to operate effectively in the shallow waters of the Med and easily spotted and sunk by the Italians. In the summer of 1940 this submarine fleet is still full strength, and much of it still stationed in Britains Asian naval bases. The Japanese using similar, tho fewer, large cruiser subs mananged to sink three US carriers and put a fourth out of action.

                        The Japanese ASW was poor through the war & the British sub commanders well trained in 1940. It is quite possible the Japanese will find a uncomfortable number of their capitol ships, aircraft carriers and battleships, sunk by the spring of 1941.

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Exorcist View Post
                          Was the US Navy even in Pearl Harbor in 1940?

                          One thing is certain- it would have been a lot harder w/o the Zero.
                          The US Pacific Fleet was mainly based out of San Pedro, California in 1940. There was/is a naval air station at San Diego that the aircraft carriers operated from, also major instalations at San Francisco, California and Seatle, Washington
                          "Profanity is but a linguistic crutch for illiterate motherbleepers"

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Wolery View Post
                            Good points, but I think unless the Japs attacked the US, the US would do nothing to provoke a war with Japan. Roosevelt knows he can win with an isolationist stance and it would be hard to out involve Willkie in the election and still win (Roosevelt did eventually do more than Willkie was proposing but politics is about timing too). The great successes of 41-42 were not naval though, other than to knock out the USN at Pearl. The invasion of Malaysia could easily be repeated, and the Dutch would have been a pushover even without their homeland occupied. The only more difficult would be the invasion of Indochina, which if they wait until AFTER the Vichy's give them access, no invasion is necessary.

                            In hindsight, this scenario is a VERY shrewd move by the Japanese, so that by the time Roosevelt is able to squeeze the Japanese by the nuts, they will already be embargo proof. There will be no war with Japan, and the US will never become a beliigerent in WWII. Axis win? Depends on how you beleive the Ostfront will go. I say German victory, I respect the stalemate postion, and seem to be doomed to fight the Soviet victory proponents until the end of time. But that's me.
                            I agree with your summarization. I can't see Roosevelt declaring war against the Japanese in 1940, simply because they got involved in a major fight with the European powers. Isolationism in the US still reigns supreme. However, once the oil from the DEI is incorporated into the Japanese Empire, Roosevelt is left with little to threaten and limit any further Japanese military expansion with, except basing the US Fleet out of Pearl Harbor also, the further reinforcement and modernization of the US' island and colonial garrisons across the Pacific ASAP.

                            It makes for an interesting what-it? though. Had MacArthur started receiving major US reinforcements in both men and material a year in advance of the actual historical time line, he might have had the time to transform the Philippines into that "Asiatic Switzerland" that he always envisioned. With ten fully trained and equipped Filippino Divisions, a US Infantry and Armored Division and a well balanced, strong, modern air force at his disposal, the Japanese would have been hard pressed to mass enough forces to successfully invade the Philippine Islands.
                            "Profanity is but a linguistic crutch for illiterate motherbleepers"

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